DC’s ‘Dining Desert’

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Economy & Finance

The Washington Post has a story today about the lack of sit-down restaurants across the Anacostia River in neighborhoods that are among the poorest in the city. 

For decades, the main arteries east of the Anacostia River have been dominated by carry-out joints and fast-food chains, their menus catering to an African American population that is the city’s most impoverished. In wards 7 and 8, with 140,000 residents, District officials and community leaders say they’re aware of just six restaurants that provide waiter service, including a Denny’s and an IHOP. The dearth of choices fuels the sense among residents that theirs is a forgotten part of Washington.

This map shows the disparity in Wards 7 and 8:  

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WSJ Unemployment Tracker

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Economy & Finance

The Wall Street Journal posted an interactive heat map to visualize the unemployment rate nationally over time. The backstory from the latest numbers: 

Under the government’s definitions, people only count as unemployed when they’re actively looking for work. So when the unemployment rate drops, it could mean that unemployed people found jobs, or it could mean that they gave up looking for work. The employment-population ratio, which measures how many people are actually working, is harder to fool.

Today’s jobs report carries good news on both fronts. The unemployment rate fell, and the employment-population ratio rose. That means the improvement in the labor market is real — people actually found jobs.

Charting Recessions and Recoveries

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Economy & Finance

Amanda Cox from The New York Times charted the current downturn compared with history: 

Horizontal axis shows months. Vertical axis shows the ratio of that month’s nonfarm payrolls to the nonfarm payrolls at the start of recession. Note: Because employment is a lagging indicator, the dates for these employment trends are not exactly synchronized with National Bureau of Economic Research’s official business cycle dates.

Charting ‘Mass Layoffs’

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Economy & Finance

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that employers in December conducted roughly 1,380 “mass layoffs,” incidents in which more than 50 workers lose their jobs. That happened to about 145,000 Americans last month, according to new filings for unemployment benefits. 

That figure seems high, but compare it to February 2009, the height of the recession. Back then more than twice as many mass layoffs occurred, affecting 326,000 employees — including 145,000 in the manufacturing sector alone. 

This quick chart, made with Google Docs, shows how these incidents have slowly declined over the months since (see larger, interactive version): 

This chart shows how such incidents spiked in 2001 and 2009 — years in which the U.S. economy struggled (see larger, interactive version): 

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